My Wife and I Made Mistakes. I Can’t See a Way for the Family to Get Out of Debt. – Gary


“Dear Steve,

My wife and I do not use our credit cards any more. We did use them at one time just to survive. We also used them to pay for a vacation or two. One more thing in my job I was traveling for about 5 years and would use my personal credit card to pay for my trips. I would get reimbursed and we used the money to pay our personal bills. Big mistake.

I don’t travel any more so issue is solved. But we are strapped with about 45K in credit card debt to pay off. We are just making the min payments each month and some times even miss a payment because we don’t have the money.

We seem to always catch up for a short time but never get ahead. We both have good jobs and make good money. I think this year we will gross 95k in total and we still struggle. I have been at my job for 15 years now and my wife has been with the same company for about 8 years. Our credit card payments are higher because of higher interest rates and late payments. We have cut back in all areas. We do not eat out at all, no coffee, no movies.. nothing. All our money goes to bills and taking care of the family.

Right now we are at the point of asking for help in the form of Consumer Credit Counseling or file Bankruptcy. We do not want to loose our house and we want to pay our bills but with the credit cards raising the amounts all the time (because we are late) we are sinking. What can we do?




Dear Gary,

Thank you for contacting me and asking for help. The pain and stress you are feeling and suffering under is experienced by hundreds of millions of people around the world, each and every day. That fact is not intended to minimize the situation, but to let you know that you are certainly not alone.

So here is what your situation comes down to, do you deserve to be punished or helped? To be forced under or to be lifted up? Personally after having lived through money troubles I have a real compassion in my heart for people who are now navigating their own dark days of debt. But yet, not everyone feels compassion or empathy for good people like yourself, struggling to pay the bills and make ends meet.

Some people would label you as a loser and a reject for making stupid decisions which led you to this point. They would want you to embark on a decades long path to make this situation whole again, at any cost. But punishment and disappointment are really not helpful actions to take. This is not the time for you to be judged by others, but for you to judge what this one life has to offer you.

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You’ve made some mistakes, like using the reimbursement money to extend your lifestyle and using that money to pay other bills and not payoff the expenses that were incurred. But you don’t need me to beat you up over that. You’ve identified the problem and you’ve learned what not to do again. As I always say, there is no sense wasting a perfectly good mistake. For that I applaud you.

You’ve also made deep lifestyle cuts as well to try to repair this situation. You are unable to eat out, buy coffees, take in a move or anything else for enjoyment. Basically, you are living a life of deprivation in order to not slip under the waves and drown in debt. But that is a lot like being cast adrift in the middle of an ocean. You can tread water for a period of time but without some sort of help, you will eventually drown from fatigue.

There are certainly little things you can do to free up some extra money each month. You can clip coupons, search for cheaper cell service, cut back on cable television, drive more gently to save gas, etc. All of those efforts can have a cumulative impact but not enough to rescue the average person.

You briefly mentioned the key word, “family.” You have a family, so there are more people involved in this situation other than just you and your wife. There must be some kids tangled up in this as well. The children of families that are in deep money trouble, actually suffer greatly. They feel the stress and struggle that goes on day-to-day. They have to make excuses why they must opt out of social events with friends and they can’t always participate in the life around them. I’m not suggesting that children deserve to be spoiled, but I think they do deserve to be able to participate in the activities of their peers in the environment in which they live. For example, if the class is going on a field trip, I think the kids should be able to participate with the class, or if they are invited to the birthday party of a friend, that they should be able to go and take a small gift, not make excuses why they can’t go, and hide.

My advice is based on my collective experience in helping people since 1994. And in that time the vast majority of people who have tried to repay their way out of similar situations is very small. When you are down to the bone and just making it month-to-month, barely able to get by, the chances that you will be able to dig your way out of this debt hole, with creditors raising interest rates and minimum payments, is slim.

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Sure, I’ve seen a few people do it, and proudly. But most people simply find it impossible to embark on a five to seven year journey of just making it, void of anything joyful in their lives, and make it to the other side. It is also very probable that during the long period of repayment that a life emergency will arise and that unexpected expense will sink you and cause your repayment efforts to fail.

I would not suggest that you try the credit counseling debt management plan approach. I think that you should instead talk to a local bankruptcy attorney and investigate debt relief through bankruptcy instead. Most bankruptcy attorneys offer a free consultation to answer all of your questions. Once your questions are answered you can then make an informed choice to determine if bankruptcy is right for you.

I wish I had a magic wand to make it all better but I don’t. In fact, nobody does. If you want to try to get a better handle on your budget and where your money is going to see if there is any more money to use towards debts repayment, to avoid bankruptcy, then use my free spending plan program in my book, “Eliminate Your Debt Like a Pro.”


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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